Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When Should Qualifications Trump the Almighty Degree

I find myself somewhat speechless - which makes it incredibly difficult to blog about a topic when you're rendered speechless.  Frustration is usually what prompts my posts although necessity and requests have driven quite a number as well.  I try to give each post the "24 hour rule".  I will write the post and then let it marinate for 24 hrs before I re-read it, make necessary changes and post.  This allows me to tamper down my rants from a boil to a simmer before releasing them to the universe.
Today I'm going to just wing it and see if I can potentially get some response to my quandary.

Recently a colleague of mine had an outstanding candidate turned down solely because this candidate did not carry a college degree.  The candidate met and exceeded all the other requirements and this candidate also had some very rare and difficult to come by industry certifications - however since he/she didn't have a college degree the client refused to even speak to him/her.  This is a candidate with over 15 years of industry experience, not to mention an exceptional track record and solid references.

Over the years I've had similar situations with some of my own candidates as well.  These decisions leave me flabbergasted.  In an industry like Healthcare IT where the market is tight and highly experienced candidates are difficult to find, particularly candidates that are open to relocation, I sit with my jaw dropped - wondering what the client (s) are thinking.  How can a piece of paper be that important?  To clarify I am not referring to requirements for a medical degrees - some positions require a BSN or other medical degree and that is completely acceptable, these are clients that don't really care what the Bachelors degree is in - just that the person has one.

For instance, XYZ Hospital calls their staffing vendor and explains they have a need for an Epic Optime / Anesthesia Certified Analyst with at least 2 years of build experience etc and part of the job description includes - Bachelor's Degree Required - ideally the client would prefer a degree in IS or Medical but technically any degree will do.  The client would also like this person to accept a salary of $85,000 and be willing to relocate to their area.

Since Epic severely restricts Epic certified consultants and their clients with their Non-Compete clauses - and the need in the market place for Epic qualified consultants is so deep, just finding someone with the desired Epic experience will be a challenge.  Add on to that the challenge of finding a consultant that would be willing to take a permanent role and relocate with a salary that is well below what they could make as an independent consultant or an employee of a consulting firm the likelihood of filling this position quickly is very slim.  As luck would have it, the recruiter finds a candidate with 15 years of Healthcare IT / EMR Implementation experience and over 5 years of Epic Optime experience including the required certifications.  This candidate comes highly recommended from a well respected IT Director and the candidate is excited about the idea of moving to the specified location so they're open to considering the pay rate.  However, after reviewing the candidate's resume the client immediately declines the candidate due to lack of degree.  They tell the recruiter that "it's a deal breaker". 

These situations leave me scratching my head.  Does the client not have a firm understanding of the industry?  If anyone has an answer, I'd love to be clued in.  In the current climate - thinking "outside the box" is a huge benefit.  The clients that are open to considering highly qualified individuals that do not carry a degree, or providing a competitive salary or being open to allowing a new hire to travel on site and/or work remotely as opposed to having to relocate are the clients that have a high rate of successful placements and can boast very low turn-over rates. 

As always your thoughts and opinions are appreciated!

(additional note - this week I had a professional candidate with over 25 years of Director and Project Management experience over both large and small HIS implementations - along with a clinical degree get passed over for a permanent Project Management role because he lacked a PMP certification.  Also take into account that this candidate was willing to accept the salary range AND was in the process of relocating to the city in which the hospital system was located.  The candidate had stated to me that he was willing to immediately obtain his PMP certification upon hire - and I made that clear in email to the client but they wouldn't speak with him.  This position has been open for months - still speechless)

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  1. i guess it means that projects are not being filled and work is not being done. The demand does seem to exceed supply in HIT so clients with such a restrictive policy will have a greater challenge meeting their strategic objectives. Which in the case of hospitals has an impact on patient care.

    1. You are correct. In many cases positions go unfilled for months. Some healthcare systems have started being more flexible and are having much greater success.

  2. Wild guess, the facility must be "Magnet". Been there, done that. It is a fine concept but just because you have a degree does not mean you can do the job.

  3. Self-inflicted wounds are no different from those of an assailant.
    My suggestion would be to move on to clients who wish to succeed.
    Those who are so closed-minded are really a self limiting disease. You do them no service by prolonging their agony.

  4. via linkedin: LinkedIn Groups
    Group: McKesson Job Network
    Discussion: At what point should years of experience over-ride degree or certification requirements?
    I find myself on the opposite of this issue. Degree, willing to relocate the to right area at the drop of a hat, would be more than willing to work for less than the position mentioned, but little experience and no one wants to give you an opportunity to gain experience or train you.

    The more I hear of situations like the one Cherie is blogging about and those who are in my situation the more it makes me wonder if healthcare organizations (HCOs) are hedging their bets that ONC or Congress will either extend the deadlines or do away with the mandatory requirement altogether.

    Posted by Scott Garrett

  5. Via Linkedin:
    Beryl T. • It seems the hiring process in healthcare is gone to an extreme which hopefully will not be lasting. Many positions will and are going unfilled because either they want 20 years in one area and no degree, or they need a degree and one year in the area they are hiring for.
    I am a registered nurse of many years with AAS Nursing and BS Health Admin. I was recently told I need to get a BSN for a position in public health. I understand nursing does need one entry level into the profession, but what about those who have been doing their job for years, Is that to be discredited? I am looking at a transfer to IT,

  6. As someone with no degree, I have faced this situation a couple of times despite my now 16+ years of overall IT experience in a multitude of areas and 6+ years in the Epic space. As good fortune would have it, other opportunities have come in the place of those which have shut me out and I have been able to find much success. But I continue to be amazed at this type of inflexibility. These organizations willingly limit themselves when some pretty amazing talent is available to them. In this guy's opinion, they only harm their ability to succeed.

    1. I also do not have a degree and I have always been able to find a position that was as interesting or more so then those I was denied. I have been working in IT for 33 years and have been fortunate to work for fortune 10 companies as well as small health care organizations.

  7. As someone without a BS degree, but 34 years of overall experience in Clinical Research, I have seen this trend developing for a very long time, since the late 1980's. I can no longer receive consideration for positions because "experience" apparently means nothing when compared to the "Theoretical" experience bestowed by a college degree, or worse yet, a Nursing degree. Don't get me wrong, if you wish to be a Doctor, Nurse, or Radiologist, appropriate education is necessary. But, for most other positions, there are NO available training programs other than direct experience, on-the-job training. All companies need to step back and take a good hard look at there current hiring practices and see that nurses cannot fill every niche, outside of nursing. You need people who have the propensity and skills to function in the management and conduct positions outside of direct patient care.

  8. Stanley - add to your point that there is already a terrible shortage of nurses nationwide. Go to any hospital or healthcare system career section and the majority of the job openings will be for nurses.

  9. From Sharon via Linkedin:
    Thank you! I liked your comments regarding experience versus having a degree. I finally felt like someone out there was thinking the same way I am about the subject.

    I have over 10 years experience in HCIT and worked at several hospitals for 10 years prior to getting into the IT end of it. Or what we use to call the 'back end'. I have been looking for a better opportunity and have had doors slammed in my face because I did not have a degree. It has been very frustrating and left me feeling inadequate for today's job market.

    I am not a clinician and I do agree that some healthcare positions require a degree and/or certification. But a lot of HCIT jobs do not. The requirement for a degree is becoming more prevalent in today's job market and I feel a lot of companies are selling themselves short.

    Obtaining a degree is a great accomplishment, but having the experience goes a long way.